Indonesian victims petition against Suharto’s ‘hero’ status

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

Forum ’65 members during a dialogue with the Ministry of Social Affairs. Image CNN Indonesia

Victims of human rights violence from Indonesia’s New Order era, visited the Social Affairs Ministry (Kemensos) to hand over petitions which, opposed the nomination of former Indonesian President Suharto being bestowed a ‘national hero’.

CNN Indonesia reported that around 27 victims, from the group Forum ’65, waited from 9.30 in the morning in the ministry lobby to meet with Kemensos officials.

In an interview with CNN Indonesia, Forum ’65 member Bedjo Untung said, recent information suggested that a document designating Suharto as a hero has already been signed.

Untung told CNN Indonesia that the survival of many victims would be in vain if Suharto became a national hero.

According to the report, at 10.35am Kemensos officials received the members for a dialogue which, revealed a decision on Suharto’s status has still not been made.

The group have made an online petition against the proposal.

Many activists and victims who suffered human rights abuse under Suharto’s rule (1967-1988) have rallied together since the late president’s ‘hero’ status was proposed.

The Jakarta Post, reported of another group called Gema Demokrasi (Democratic Resonance) which, rallied against the proposal in early October to highlight the controversies surrounding Suharto’s rule.

‘Not worthy’

Gems Demokrasi’s spokesperson, Asep Komarudin, told The Jakarta Post that Suharto was not worthy of receiving the award because he abused human rights and stole state money during his term in office.

“He committed a lot of violations back then, such as the massacre of Indonesian Communist Party [PKI] members and other crimes during the New Order era,” Komarudin said.

The report also stated that Suharto is responsible for Indonesia’s massacres in 1965 and 1966, the 1984 Tanjung Priok massacre, the 1989 Talangsari incident in Lampung, the May 1998 riots and embezzling between US$15-25 billion of the state’s money.

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